C.E.C.C.| Shepherds Cot | Crouch End | North London | N8 8JJ
We did not have the best preparation for our important match against struggling Finchley. They were one of only two teams below us at the start of play and the importance of opening up a significant gap between us and them was high. Therefore a drop out at 10pm followed by much ringing around to rectify the situation was not ideal.
Neither was the fact that GoogleMaps potentially sent us to one location, while AppleMaps sent us to the correct one. Anyway, most of us made it to the correct location on time and the toss was won – that’s four out of my four now. Finchley were asked to bat first on a very green and patchy pitch. We began with only nine as Quayum and Hassan were stuck in traffic somewhere, and we were to endure a horrible start.
After being convinced by Ricardo to open the bowling, my good first couple of overs were ruined by the next three as Finchley’s best player tucked in to my string of inconsistent deliveries with increasing brutality. I still have a seam print on my hand from one dropped caught and bowled attempt that may have killed me if I had not have got my hands in the way.
At the other end Kam was also struggling to find any rhythm, line or length. By the time we were finally eleven, Finchley had raced to 50 and my mood was deteriorating rapidly. Something need to change for us to wrestle back the initiative and it was to come in the form of a good bowling partnership by Ricardo and Moh.
Ricardo quickly saw off the other stubborn opener with one that clipped the top of off stump before removing the danger man thanks to a good catch by Kam at deep gully. This was not before he had brought up his 50 with the total on 72. Slowly we started to turn the screw and the benefits of having eleven in the field were clear. We were much tighter and backed the bowlers.
Moh was then in on the action as Dilan, who kept very well all innings, ran back athletically to grab a looping top edge. He then tempted the stubborn number three to hit a simple catch to me at silly mid off, while Kam threw down the stumps to run out Finchley’s dangerous looking number six with an excellent direct hit.
We were now on top and the turn around from the poor start was very pleasing. Moh bowled another as Finchley tried to hang on, before Ricardo also got his third by bowling their captain (he had his own problems too as two players failed to materialise) by hitting middle stump. With only nine opposition men, the innings was wrapped up as Rob produced a good throw from square leg for Dilan to run out the last man. 133 all out in 35.2 overs.
With plenty of time to get the required runs, our batting reply followed a similar pattern to our bowling. Within 10 overs we were 28-3 with Dilan having been bowled by an in-swinger from the opener who had scored 50, who opened the bowling too. He was quickly followed by Shiva – he got a good ball that moved away and hit the top of off stump - and Simon was adjudged LBW.
We needed some consolidation as Finchley were getting a bit excited and sensing this could be their first win of the season. It came in the form of Rob and Apu. Rob has been in increasingly good form this season and this continued as he nullified the bowling with a series of quick single and well-timed boundaries. A couple of effortless clips off the hip for four and one massive six particularly stick in the mind.
Apu was to play one of the best and most mature innings I’ve seen from him. He mixed his customary attacking shots incredibly well with stoic defence against the good balls. A couple of massive straight sixes were the highlight but the pair of them read the situation well and slowly swung the match ultimately in our favour. Rob was finally out for 40, bowled by one that kept low, and the pair had put on 85 and almost seen us home.
Quayum was in a hurry and finished the match in nine balls – the first going for a huge six over square leg (this is not the first time this season that he has hit his first ball for six!) and the ninth going in a similar direction but not quite as far. Apu was left stranded on 40 not out at the other end but had done an excellent job. 134-4 in 25.4 overs.
In the end we were comfortable winners with 30 overs to spare. We endured a dreadful start to both innings but were rescued by Ricardo and Moh in the bowling and Rob and Apu in the batting. Our fielding was also very good once we had eleven men - two good run outs, some excellent ground fielding and some tidy catching were testament to that. We got the ten points that were required and that we deserved.
We are still third from bottom but the table is very congested in the middle, as everyone seems to be beating everyone else – two teams are pulling away at the top and two appear stranded at the bottom. With a couple more wins in the next few games, then we will be safely in mid-table at the halfway point. That is the aim and who knows what we can do after that? Let’s find out shall we?
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